Wynonna Talks Johnny Cash, New Nashville and Finally Being Free

Wynonna Talks Johnny Cash, New Nashville and Finally Being Free

By Jonathan K. Dick

Released earlier this year, Wynonna Judd & the Big Noise is the eighth and perhaps most daring album of its namesake. With over three decades behind her, including multiple Grammy wins, world tours and universal success both as a solo artist and as the other half of the legendary country duo The Judds, Wynonna Juddís status as an icon of the genre has long been assured. Though not unlike the music itself, Juddís path hasnít been without its troubles and heartaches. For that reason, her latest isnít so much an endeavor into new, unexplored territory as much as it is a rekindling of passion that, according to the 51-year-old Kentucky native, never really went away.

Preceded by a covers album with 2009ís Sing: Chapter 1, Wynonna Judd & the Big Noise is the singerís first full-length of all original material since 2003ís What the World Needs Now is Love. The 13 years between that record and this yearís release were perhaps the most challenging and uncertain of the musicianís life. From an acrimonious divorce to a DUI arrest to what could have easily been a fatal car accident, what could have proved to be a series of insurmountable obstacles became the foundation for what Judd says is heard in the music now. Judd recently spoke with Paste about the new music and her renewed sense of purpose in this candid interview.

Paste : This album is really special for you for a number of reasons. What was your perspective going in?
Judd: Thatís a great question, my dear. Youíre right, Iím coming out of an incredibly large challenging time in my life having done what Iíve done and accomplished what Iíve accomplished. Lots of failure in the mix, which is what Iíve learned more from, actually. Truthfully, I can break it down to you real simply. Itís so personal between Cactus and I, what we have been through together. Most of the time, artists go in with marketing first and then they try to fulfill peopleís expectations. They try to market before they make the product. It was the exact opposite for us. Cactus and I were staying at a hotel in Coronado. Iím really terrified of the ocean. I had an experience as a child where I almost drowned and I didnít know which way was up, and I was just really scared. We were out there having a romantic evening after a date night, and he literally took me by the hand and he said, ďDo you trust me?Ē I said, ďYes I do.Ē Iíve known this man since I was 20, and Iíve loved him ever since.

Thirty years later, we began dating again, having run into each other during transitions in both our lives. But we were on this date night. He took me into the ocean. I was terrified. Iím talking little girl, chatter teeth, the whole thing. He said, ďHold on.Ē Iím telling you, that became a metaphor for our experience together musically. He took me in, the water got up to my chin, and then the wave came and totally drenched us both. I was terrified. It was dark. But I remember that moment like it was our wedding day. I just remember me holding on to him. Iíve never felt that trust with anyone. Thatís how our love affair began. With that being said, when he said to me, ďWeíre going to make this record and weíre going to do it this way,Ē I submitted my resignation and fired myself as a control addict. I said, ďOkay. Iím going to try it your way. Iíve done it my way, and Iíve succeeded, and Iíve failed.Ē

I just wanted something different. This goes to a personal level. Not just, ďNashvilleís going to love this record.Ē This is the two of us sitting in a room and deciding weíre going to do it live, and weíre going to do it with people we like. We went to friends. We went to people we loved. We were blown away, and it was a very personal journey that started with just the man and the woman saying to each other, ďDo you trust me?Ē I said yes. I went with the trust Iíve not ever had. He took me down a path Iíd not been down before. Now I just want to interpret these words as honestly and as transparent as I can. I think you can hear that. There are moments in the record that I cried because I knew I was crying when I was singing it.